Preventing file sharing

Chances are you want to keep your files in the hands of those who buy them and prevent your hard work from being shared with others. The reality is that file protection is a tricky business - even Game of Thrones hasn't figured this one out. That being said, we've got a few features throughout the platform to help deter the sharing of your digital files.

Set Download Limits

As a seller, you can set download limits for your digital items

We recommend making a note within your item description or store description regarding your download limits. We also notify your buyer of their download limits post-purchase on the download page:

If you have your own website and embed your items there, consider adding a note which includes your download limits, so buyers know how long they have to download the product.

Turn on PDF Watermarking

If your product(s) is a PDF file, consider turning on  PDF Watermarking to deter the sharing of your file. This option is only available for PDF file types at this time and watermarks the pages of your document.

The Realities of Selling Digital Files

Even if your buyer downloads the file only once, it's then available for duplication and sharing much like any other file on a buyer's computer without having to download another copy. Restricting download attempts and expiry date with our feature doesn't stop someone from duplicating the file once they download it successfully.

Additionally, a buyer's download may fail for a number of reasons with the most common being an internet connection drop. If the connection drops, the buyer must use another download attempt.

A customers download might fail for a number of reasons - most commonly that during the download their internet connection dropped, which means they have to start again. It's impossible to know if a download has been successful, so any attempt to download will be counted as a download. This means that they'll need to try again, and restricting the number of times that a buyer can download a product can be bad news if they've already used up all their download attempts.

How Restricting Downloads Affects Buyer Experience

  • Restricting your downloads can make accessing your products a difficult process for honest paying buyers. The risk of having to deal with frustrated buyers and having to deal with technical customer service issues is high, so you need to weigh up as to whether this is worth the inconvenience for you and your buyers.
  • Most buyers are not out to take advantage of you: few are tech savvy enough to replicate and share a file, nor are interested in doing so. Treating your buyers as potential criminals does not make a happy relationship.
  • The reality is many buyers who use up their download limits without being able to access the file in the end (whether due to user error, internet drop, browser issues, etc) will not likely bother reaching out to you. Buyers unable to download a product tend to either not buy from you again, or raise a chargeback with their credit card provider to dispute the transaction. Excessive disputes may result in a suspension of your account and cause further administrative work.

In the end, love and convenience win. 

Many buyers are more likely to spend the $5 for the convenience to easily access an uncorrupted digital product than spending their time risking their computer security by searching and downloading from a file-sharing site.

If you price your product fairly, have a good relationship with your buyers, and make purchasing and accessing your items as easy as possible, then you are likely to make more sales and create happier buyers.

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